Dr. Tim Irwin




The Price of Forgiveness

Monday, June 22, 2015

Over the weekend, I wept as I watched members of the AME Church in Charleston speak to Dylann Roof, the alleged killer of their family members and beloved fellow parishioners.  With raw pain in the faces and voices of these dear people, I was transfixed when person after person said, “You deeply hurt me and my family, but I forgive you.”

How could these individuals who will never again hold their loved ones be able to forgive? In this blog I often write about derailed leaders who made terrible and usually self-serving decisions which lead down a path of personal destruction. In contrast, how noble were these individuals who rose selflessly above this unspeakable cruelty. Is this not one of those finest hours which transform all who will listen?

Our words and actions emanate from the beliefs in our core. While these acts of forgiveness defy our natural instincts, these families and church members somehow chose to forgive. While their pain was unfathomable, I feel that nested in each person’s core were certain deeply held convictions which guided their words and actions.

While no one can know with certainty another’s motives, I can only guess that those who had suffered such a great loss believed that this is not the end of the story. They believe that despite Roof’s appalling evil, God is loving, just, and sovereign over the affairs of men. They also believe that forgiveness is ultimately the only cure for the pain each feels. These convictions were grounded in the spiritual formation, which occurred in the very Bible study where Roof attacked.

None of the commentaries I watched or the articles I read pointed out this one additional fact. Forgiveness is not free. Someone has to pay for it. Forgiving Roof comes at a great price. I will pray that these good people from Charleston, who I respect beyond measure, will bear up well under the huge price they have paid.

How did the posture of forgiveness of the members of AME Church in Charleston impact you? Please comment below:

© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Ripple Effect of Derailment

Thursday, June 04, 2015
Hardly a week goes by that we don’t see a person of great influence fall from their lofty perch, and last week was no exception. Dennis Hastert, former U.S. Speaker of the House (2nd in the line of succession to the President) was indicted on charges that he paid someone large sums of money to keep quiet about sexual misconduct. Also last week, the soccer world’s foundations shook with the revelation that the U.S. Department of Justice filed a 47-count indictment charging nine current or former FIFA officials and five others with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.

The consequences to those who follow or admire a leader may be worse than even what the leader experiences. An on-line New York Times article quotes some his former students as saying that Hastert had a major impact on their lives, yet now they are confused and in disbelief about the news. I can only imagine the deep cynicism soccer fans worldwide must be feeling from the FIFA official’s breach of trust.

What is inescapable is that we live in community. While our actions have consequences for us, we must be mindful about what an action could mean to the people we most care about, the organizations to which we are connected, or even our country. Just a couple of days following his indictment, Hastert’s alma mater, Wheaton College, dropped
his name from an academic center.  Hastert also resigned from the prominent school’s board of advisors. Wheaton obviously did not want to be collateral damage.

When we derail, the communities we are part of suffer exponentially more than we could ever imagine.

Before we take any initiative that seems even possibly questionable, we should ask:
  1. What would I say if I had to explain my actions to a reporter from 60 Minutes who ambushed me going into my office?
  2. What if I had to explain my actions to my family or to those who see me as a role model?
  3. Should I ask a trusted advisor if a contemplated action is sound? I’ve wondered what if Anthony Weiner had asked someone with good judgment, “Hey, I’m thinking about sending a photo of my privates to a college student in Seattle I’ve never met…you think that’s a good idea? Will I feel better about myself? He might still be Congressman Weiner had he sought that counsel.
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© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Race is Underway

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The election season is underway. I may not be a political expert, but like most of you, I have opinions about the presidential candidates. Being a student of leadership, it’s always of interest to me who rises and who falls in the presidential race...and who derails like John Edwards in ’08. Many will attempt to convince us in the months ahead that he or she is the best person to lead our country.  

These are some adages I consider when screening CEO candidates for my clients. I believe these principles also have relevance to our electoral choices: 

1.      Character and competence always trump charisma.

2.      The best predictor of what a person can and will do is what he or she has done.

3.      A person will eventually manifest who he or she really is, particularly under stress.

The infamous low information voters will likely ignore these principles and for sure violate principle 1, but hopefully enough Americans will make informed decisions to elect the right CEO of our country in 2016.

What qualities are you looking for in our elected officials?

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© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.

Tragic Derailment

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Over the last few days, the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia dominated the news. Our prayers go out to those injured in the crash and to the families of those who died in this tragic accident. The NTSB continues its investigation into the causes. The train engineer hired lawyers, is not commenting and said through his attorney that he does not remember the derailment. We do know that the train was traveling 106 mph in a 50 mph zone.

Derailment has become a metaphor for those leaders who go down a terrible path of personal destruction. Just as the Philadelphia train engineer claimed not to know what was going on at the time of the accident, my research indicates that lack of self-awareness is a common denominator among leaders who derail. They also ignore the warning signals of their impending doom. Did the engineer know he was in a 50 mph zone approaching a sharp curve? He should have. It will be of great interest to all of us if a personal derailment on the part of the engineer contributed to the actual derailment of the New York bound train.

Here are remedies I recommend to leaders to guard against derailment:

  1. Cultivate self-awareness…know and leverage your strengths and mitigate your vulnerabilities.
  2. While arrogance is the mother of all derailers, humility is the mother of safeguards.
  3. Pay attention to feedback…a lot of derailing leaders are “truth-starved.”
  4. Guard against rationalization of your behavior. “Rational lies” breach the core of who we are and set us up for acting on false beliefs.
  5. Be sure you’re accountable to someone who will ask you the tough questions.

If you have not seen the very short video on my website, it begins with stories about some leaders who derailed and amplifies some of the points above: www.drtimirwin.com

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© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.

Exciting News!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It’s with great excitement that I let you all know that my new blog marks the beginning of a new intentional effort to provide you all with regular and consistent content. My hope is that the words you receive will not only encourage you, but will truly provide value to wherever you are in your career. I hope to provide short snippets of what I’m personally learning while in the corridors of power with America’s top executives, a peak behind the curtain into new research and publishing initiatives of mine, and occasional sound bytes from my own personal leadership journey. For you all to hear a few of my own convictions about leadership, please watch my newly-released video embedded on the first page of my recently updated web site: www.drtimirwin.com   

I also wanted to invite those of you in Atlanta, and surrounding areas, to a very special opportunity.  On Thursday, May 7th at 3:00 PM, I will be providing the keynote address for the 2015 Leadercast Live Simulcast Test at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, GA. I will be speaking on The Core of a Leader, and each of you is invited to hear this live keynote free of charge. If you wish to join me, please arrive at the Gwinnett Arena no later than 2:45 pm, park in one of the lots in front of the arena, and enter the main doors to the facility. You will be directed to your seat and, again, there is no admission charge for my keynote.

My hope is that this opportunity kick starts a new season of providing intentional value to you as a leader and continuous dialogue to those of you who’ve joined me in this effort of strengthening the core of leaders around the world. My blog is interactive, so please feel free to post comments and questions—click on the blog tab at: www.drtimirwin.com


Tim Irwin 

© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.